Police in Germany are investigating a “probable terrorist attack” after a man drove a lorry into a Christmas market in the heart of Berlin, killing 12 people.
At least 48 more were wounded when the truck tore through the crowd on Monday, smashing wooden stalls and crushing victims, in scenes reminiscent of July’s deadly attack in the French Riviera city of Nice.
The market is at Breitscheidplatz, close to the Kurfuerstendamm, the main shopping street in Berlin’s west.
The driver, an alleged Pakistani asylum seeker who entered Germany last year, is being questioned.
Images showed the mangled truck with its windscreen smashed and a trail of destruction in its wake, with Christmas trees toppled on their side and festive stalls obliterated into splinters.
Speaking on the incident, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it would be “particularly sickening” if he were proven to be a refugee.
In a short statement on Tuesday, Mrs Merkel said those behind the attack would be punished “as harshly as the law allows”.
One of the survivors, Australian Trisha O’Neill, recalled the horror of “this huge black truck speeding through the markets crushing so many people”, with “blood and bodies everywhere”.
“It wasn’t an accident,” said another visitor, Briton Emma Rushton, who was enjoying a glass of mulled wine when the festive scene was shattered by a loud crash and screams.
“We heard a really loud bang and saw some of the Christmas lights to our left starting to be pulled down,” she told Sky news.
“Then we saw the articulated vehicle going through people and through the stalls and just pulling everything down and then everything went dark.”